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Friday, 13 September, 2002, 06:43 GMT 07:43 UK
Trimble meets US envoy
Ulster Unionist team met US special envoy
Ulster Unionist team met US special envoy
The focus of talks on the Northern Ireland political process has moved from Downing Street to Belfast and Dublin.

The US special envoy to Northern Ireland, Richard Haass, met Ulster Unionist leader David Trimble near Belfast and also held talks with the Alliance Party leadership.

Mr Trimble said the meeting had been "very positive".


At the end of the day there can be no place for paramilitaries in modern society

Richard Haass
Special envoy

"We are glad to see that even in times of international crisis that he (Mr Haass) is keeping in close contact with the situation," he said.

"A lot of the discussion focused on the recent violence we have had in Belfast," he said.

'Positive input'

Mr Haass said Northern Ireland was in a transition which was not yet complete.

While he said the IRA had made positive steps with two acts of decommissioning, he added: "At the same time there are question marks and there are problems and not limited to the IRA but to loyalists as well."

"At the end of the day there can be no place for paramilitaries in modern society."

Mr Haass said he believed an auditor for the ceasefires could have a positive input to public debate and had the potential to do "more good than harm".

Later on Friday, SDLP leader Mark Durkan is due to hold talks in Dublin with Irish Prime Minister Bertie Ahern.

David Trimble
David Trimble: Met Mr Haass
On Thursday, Mr Durkan - who is also the deputy first minister - voiced opposition to the appointment of an independent auditor of the paramiltary ceasefires.

He criticised unionists for only being interested in republican violence.

Earlier, the government said it would make a statement shortly on who would be the independent monitor.

The announcement came after a meeting between Mr Trimble, party minister Dermot Nesbitt and Prime Minister Tony Blair.

It is expected the name of the auditor will be made known next week.

'IRA activity'

The first minister said he had urged the government to get on top of the violence taking place in interface areas of Belfast, but said some progress had been made.

Secretary of State John Reid said: "Of course the whole question of violence and law and order featured heavily."

He said the paramilitary ceasefires were a matter for him, but there was no reason as much information as possible should be made available to the public.

Sinn Fein is opposed to the idea of independent monitoring of the paramilitary ceasefires, as is the IRA.

Some members of the Ulster Unionist Party had called for it to withdraw from the Stormont executive because of recent reports alleging IRA activity in Northern Ireland and Colombia.

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
BBC NI's political correspondent Martina Purdy:
"Mr Haass said he saw merit in the idea of an independent monitor to look at ongoing violence"
BBC NI's Martina Purdy:
"Ambassador Haass has already spoken to most of the parties"
Find out more about the latest moves in the Northern Ireland peace process

Devolution crisis

Analysis

Background

SPECIAL REPORT: IRA

TALKING POINT

AUDIO VIDEO
See also:

12 Sep 02 | N Ireland
12 Sep 02 | N Ireland
09 Sep 02 | N Ireland
10 Sep 02 | N Ireland
18 Oct 02 | N Ireland
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